From atop a hill overlooking the Dnieper River in the capital city of Kiev, Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve dedicated on Sept. 12 the Republic of the Ukraine in the USSR for the preaching of the gospel.

Accompanying Elder Packer were Elder Dallin H. Oaks, also of the Twelve, and Elder Dennis K. Neuenschwander of the Seventy, who is second counselor in the Europe Area presidency.About 40 Church members, missionaries and investigators were present for the dedicatory prayer, which was offered at the southeast corner of a large monument honoring Prince Vladimir, who introduced Christianity into the land just over a millennium ago.

As Elder Packer and the others gathered at the monument, the sun began to peek through clouds in an overcast sky. Pres. Howard L. Biddulph of the Austria Vienna East Mission conducted the brief ceremony, which began with the singing of a hymn heralding the Restoration, "Oh, How Lovely Was the Morning." Some sang in English and others in Russian, producing a harmonious blending of voices and languages.

Elder Oaks and Elder Neuenschwander each spoke for about two minutes before Elder Packer offered the dedicatory prayer and pronounced a blessing upon the city of Kiev and the land of the Ukraine.

Elder Oaks explained the purpose of a dedicatory service and read two passages from modern scripture: D&C 1:4-6, 8-9; and 38:33. Both passages pertain to the authority given the Lord's servants who go forth in the course of His work.

Elder Neuenschwander spoke of the "many miracles" that have transpired in the Ukraine since missionary work began there last October. He described the privilege of being present with two apostles as the land was dedicated.

The dedicatory prayer was then offered by Elder Packer. After returning to Salt Lake City, he described in a Church News interview the "heroic statue" of Prince Vladimir and the significance of the dedicatory prayer being offered at the monument.

"The Grand Prince Vladimir [in the year A.D. 988T announced that Christianity would be preached in the dominion over which he presided," Elder Packer related. "He caused the great pagan image, Perun, to be pulled down and directed 12 men to beat it to pieces with clubs as it was dragged to the river where it was destroyed."

On the day the Ukraine was dedicated - 1,003 years after Prince Vladimir tore down the pagan image - Elder Packer and Elder Oaks observed a nearly parallel event. Elder Packer said, "Close to the hotel where we stayed was a 60-foot statue of Lenin [leader of the Communist revolution of 1917T," Elder Packer explained. "In front of it were three 20-foot bronze statues, one of a soldier and two of workers. We saw men using welding torches trying to get the bronze statues loose before they pulled down the statue to Lenin. A very large crowd gathered, silently watching."

Elder Packer said after Prince Vladimir destroyed the pagan image, the "rudiments of the gospel of Jesus Christ then spread from Kiev thence into what is now known as Russia.

"Christianity in its infancy withstood the invasions of the Mongols and lived in the hearts of the peasants and the hearts of great men and women throughout that land. As the years unfolded and the day of restoration of the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was near, there emerged in the land the great dark doctrine that would oppress the people and would suppress the doctrines of Christianity. So thick and palpable were the clouds of darkness that men and women hardly knew which way to walk."

Elder Packer said a hymn written by Elder Parley P. Pratt (who lived from 1807-1857) of the Council of the Twelve describes the spirit of what transpired in the Ukraine a millennium after Prince Vladimir's act. In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Packer cited:

"The morning breaks, the shadows flee; Lo, Zion's standard is unfurled! The dawning of a brighter day, majestic rises on the world. The clouds of error disappear before the rays of truth divine; the glory bursting from afar wide o'er [this nationT soon shall shine. . . . Angels from heav'n and truth from earth have met, and both have record borne; thus Zion's light is bursting forth to bring her ransomed children home."

The Ukraine is the latest of Soviet republics to be separately dedicated for the preaching of the gospel.

On June 24, 1991, Elder Oaks and Elder Russell M. Nelson, also of the Council of the Twelve, and Elder Hans B. Ringger of the Seventy and president of the Europe Area, gathered with others in a brief ceremony to dedicate the Republic of Armenia. From the site of the dedication overlooking the republic's capital city of Yerevan, Mt. Ararat can be seen in the distance. There, according to Gen. 8:4, Noah's Ark came to rest. The mount is just over the border in what is now Turkey.

Elder Oaks, in offering the dedicatory prayer, acknowledged Aremenia as a "land sanctified by the worship of thy Son for centuries, indeed from the earliest recorded history of the Christian era. . . . It is a land where thy sons and daughters have felt hostility and where blood has stained the boundaries between this Christian nation and its neighbors for millennia."

Elder Oaks petitioned that the land's inhabitants, as they try to overcome the difficulties of the past and go forward, might realize "the benefit of their

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righteous labors" and feel the "cool breeze of freedom" and have showered on them the blessings of prosperity, and "hear the song of liberty, the song of freedom."

The earliest recorded official prayer of dedication in what is now the Soviet Union was offered Aug. 6, 1903, by Elder Francis M. Lyman of the Council of the Twelve and president of the European Mission when he visited St. Petersburg. The land was then known as Russia.

On April 26, 1990, Elder Nelson offered a special prayer of gratitude and rededication while in the city, which was then called Leningrad.

In Moscow during the Tabernacle Choir's tour to the Soviet Union, Elder Nelson and Elder Oaks went to a park near the Kremlin walls on June 25. There Elder Nelson offered a prayer, asking a blessing on the government and the people of the Soviet Union.

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